Monday, 23 July 2012

The Ghost Library

Despite the occasional bang or crash, and two-second bursts of buzz-sawing from the builders, there is something eerie about the empty library. Ghostly figures drift behind the plastic shrouding, and ghostly mobiles ring. Ghostly conversations are almost always fraught, starting off  'Look, I can't...'

Nevertheless, things move apace, with almost 'Elves and the Shoemaker' mystery. There will be something of a hiatus, however, one suspects, when it is time to effect the painting and lay the carpet. Because we have not settled the vexed question of the decor yet.

We sailed perilously close to having beige carpet, disaster surprisingly averted when Crail declared she would kill herself if that was to be the choice. 'Well, we can't have beige then', said the Academic Librarian. 'She has to live in here'. How sweet - he thought I spent my entire life in the library.

But I am contemplating what outfit to wear in my new role as Ghost Librarian. Should we don a Victorian night-dress and glide silently about, or should we go the whole London Dungeons hog?

We have also uncovered a charming piece of library history, when students smoked pipes, and librarians hissed 'Ssshhhh', instead of 'Here's a tenner, run to Iceland and get me a couple of bottles of their vodka, dear boy'. The signs have been there all the time, covered by a floor plan.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Well, this is unexpected

Things are not quite normal. Crail has been indulging in a bit of unseemly weeping.
End of an era. The gothic gloom of the bays in the Plant Sciences Library, loved by some, hated by the hoi polloi [who stump through bawling 'It smells of old books!'], will be no more.
On Monday the builders move in with their sledgehammers, and poncification begins. Though to be frank once the amount of the budget was revealed, 'poncification' is likely to be ludicrously euphemistic.
One was nevertheless optimistic about the changes. Comfy seats for students, more light, coffee machine, and all that.
But it was the sad sight of Crail's empty cage that did it.

How Crail came to be caged is too long a story to indulge in, but the beloved cage, with all its room for Important Stuff I Will Deal With ... Later, is to be swapped for, well, an airport car-hire desk if the 'artist's impression' is to be believed. No doubt a polyester uniform will be shaken out of a carrier bag at some point, and one will be handed a 'Can I help you?' badge and a box of logo'd pencils. Crail's request for a chaise longue in the 'relaxation area' was declined, reasons unknown.
Please note: The object, which I understand is called a broom, was placed in the shot for aesthetic reasons alone.

Wednedsay morning, 8.20 am

Oh, for goodness sake, you say. Another of Crail's boring shots of a boring library.
Aha, there is a point. Intended for University bodies who think in-department libraries are a waste of resources and are no longer necessary.
This is a fairly typical sight that greets Crail when she staggers into the Genetics Library at around 8.15 am.
Those nice young people depicted are a postdoc and a postgrad student. The Genetics Library is a small one, yet it is rarely empty. It is not the most lovely working space imaginable, these users aren't reading books or periodicals, and neither needs to use it.
They choose to.